Defining Rules of Engagement During Hotel Pen Testing

Rapid digital transformation exposes hotels to cyber threats that can compromise sensitive guest information and disrupt services. This reinforces the importance of pen testing as a crucial cybersecurity measure.

In this week’s feature of the VENZA Echo, we’ll delve into the related topic of Rules of Engagement (RoE)—guidelines and parameters that define the nature and scope of the test—during pen testing for hotels.

Understanding RoE in Pen Testing

Pen testing is a controlled simulation of cyberattacks carried out on a system or network to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The technique focuses on assessing the digital infrastructure of hotels, including their websites, booking systems, guest Wi-Fi networks, payment processing systems, and more.

RoE are the guidelines and parameters that dictate the scope, methods, and limitations of the pen test.

RoE define what actions can and cannot be taken during the testing process and ensure that the test is conducted ethically, legally, and without causing any harm to the organization.

Establishing RoE Prior to Pen Testing

There are several steps involved in the process of establishing RoE before a pen test. These include:

1. Defining the Scope. This involves identifying the specific systems, applications, and networks that will be evaluated. For instance, if the pen test is focused on a hotel’s guest Wi-Fi network, the scope should explicitly state whether testing should include attempting to access guests’ personal devices.

2. Methodologies. This includes specifying whether the testers can use social engineering techniques, launch phishing attacks, or attempt any form of physical breach. For instance, testers might attempt to gain unauthorized access to a hotel’s staff-only areas to gauge the physical security measures in place.

3. Timeframes. Defining the duration of the pen test is crucial to ensure that the testing team doesn’t disrupt regular hotel operations. RoE should specify the start and end dates of the testing period, along with any specific times when certain tests might be off-limits, such as during peak check-in or check-out times.

4. Data Handling. In hospitality, safeguarding guest data is of paramount importance. RoE should clearly outline how guest data will be handled during the test, ensuring that no actual guest information is exposed.

5. Notification. RoE should stipulate whether hotel staff should be informed about the pen test. While some tests might be conducted as “blind” tests to assess staff responses to real-world attack scenarios, others may involve prior notification to avoid causing disruption.


In an era where technology drives the hospitality industry, cybersecurity can no longer be an afterthought.

Pen testing, guided by well-defined RoE, plays a pivotal role in identifying vulnerabilities, protecting guest data, and ensuring the smooth operation of hotels’ digital systems. By defining the scope, methodologies, timeframes, and data handling procedures in advance, hotels can fortify their security defenses and maintain their reputation as trusted custodians of guest information.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be. VENZA is here to help. Cybersecurity is complex, but in partnership with us, your company can get started in as little as one month. Get a live demonstration today by contacting our Customer Success Team.

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